Ashes off the agenda for Four Nations

The historical significance of the Rugby League Ashes has persuaded the RFL and ARL to reject calls for England and Australia to contest the sport’s most prestigious trophy when they meet in the Gillette Four Nations next month.

The two governing bodies had been considering suggestions from current and former Test players for the Ashes Trophy to be played for in the international at Wigan on Saturday October 31.

However after listening to supporters and opponents of the plan, the sheer logistics of transforming the history of the Ashes concept from a three-match series to a one-off match has led to the plan being shelved.

“It was an idea born out of a great sporting rivalry and it is to the credit of the Australians that they were prepared to consider the move,” said RFL Chairman Richard Lewis.

“Understandably there are some passionate views about the Rugby League Ashes in the light of its rich history.

“Since 1908 these contests have held a unique place in the game and we believe any change to the format under which they are to be decided would need more consideration than can be given between now and the Four Nations.”

ARL Chief Executive Geoff Carr said: “We were initially happy to accept any challenge but after representations from a number of individuals and groups we are more than happy to focus on winning the Gillette Four Nations trophy itself.

“The strong feelings expressed about the Ashes are a reminder of how much these contests mean to people and we will no doubt have further discussion regarding an Ashes series in the near future.”

The Gillette Four Nations kicks off on Friday October 23 when England play France at the Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster, and continues the following day with a Southern Hemisphere clash between World Champions new Zealand and Australia at The Twickenham Stoop.

Richard Lewis said: “We’re extremely excited about next month’s Gillette Four Nations featuring some of the best players in the world from the World Champions New Zealand, Australia, England and France.

“It’s going to be a fantastic tournament in its own right and I’m looking forward to seeing how all four nations fare 12 months after success last year’s hugely successful World Cup in Australia.”

Tickets for all Four Nations fixtures, including the final at Elland Road, Leeds on Saturday November 14, are available by calling the RFL Ticket Hotline on 0844 856 11 13 or by visiting www.rugbyleaguetickets.co.uk